Hamilton residents have voted to stick with the status quo, keeping fluoride in the water supply and retaining first past the post (FPP) as the preferred electoral system.
The results were released on Saturday afternoon and are binding on the city council.
More than 33,500 people, or 38 per cent of eligible voters, returned their papers.
Seventy per cent wanted fluoride retained and 60 per cent opted for FPP over the single transferable vote (STV) system councillors voted to change to last August.
The results were so clear-cut that one veteran councillor today called on the public to put the issues to bed for two or three terms and let the council get on with other more pressing matters.
Cr Roger Hennebry said fluoride opponents, in particular, had been at the council for years. “The activists have really been on our cases about (both) these things. The public has had its say.”
Mayor Michael Redman said he was pleased with the turnout, which he described as “quite reasonable”. The council spent $160,000 on the referendum.
“Given our local body elections are at around 45 per cent, the turnout is probably as good as could be expected.”
Waikato medical officer of health Felicity Dumble said the city council had looked at the issue in depth with a workshop, a public opinion poll and now a referendum.
“Certainly this confirms that the majority of Hamilton residents support fluoride and want it kept in their water,” she said. “The issue should not need to be revisited unless some new information becomes evident.”
Fluoride Action Network spokeswoman Caren McConnell said she was “obviously disappointed that Hamilton’s water will be deliberately polluted for a while longer yet”.
She said the pro-fluoride campaign reeked of political interference.
“We don’t believe the outcome is a true reflection of informed public opinion at all. The cards were largely stacked against us –- tens of thousands of official dollars have been spent on glossy rhetoric.”
Ms McConnell said despite the outcome, the anti-fluoride campaign had still been reasonably successful because it had raised awareness of the issue in Hamilton.
“Over 10,000 votes against fluoridation can’t be entirely ignored –- we will be asking that the city council provide access to non-fluoridated water for those who want to pick it up,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Bob Simcock said he was certain some people would “persist” in bringing up the fluoride issue but until there was “overwhelming evidence” against it, the status quo should be retained.
One of STV’s strongest supporters, Cr Daphne Bell, said it was always hard to get change. “We helped increase people’s awareness (of STV),” she said.
“I take a long-term view on this.”